Taking part in a nurse recruitment event was a new experience for us. Initially we felt anxious about how we could promote acute medicine to newly-registered nurses in a way that showcases all it has to offer.
Collectively, we had planned how to attract nurses: we bought pens to give away, designed a poster and brochure describing acute medicine, filled medication pots with ‘vibrant sweets’ and displayed photographs depicting past social events.
We saw that many recruitment ideas generated were very similar across different clinical areas, which made for some friendly competition.
Nevertheless, what proved to be of greater importance on the day was our ability to engage potential recruits in conversation; we built a rapid rapport, drawing on our interpersonal skills, giving clear information and offering our contact details.
We were, however, surprised to be approached by self-assured students, who were focused on what our clinical area could offer them. The recruitment event was a competitive arena and our vacancy factor presented us with a hard-hitting realisation of how hard it was going to be to recruit.
For some who talked to us, it seemed they were seeking a short-term experience rather than starting on a career pathway. This is perhaps generated from the brevity of their prior practice placements and the current vacancy climate, which enables newly-registered nurses the freedom to easily move jobs.
We hoped to offset their approach with our stories regarding possible career pathways and a new education programme we have developed for newly-registered nurses. Our key message was that it is perfectly possible to spend your working life in one organisation and navigate/develop a career through the multitude of opportunities available. This was emphasised through a presentation from senior nurses of innovative, bespoke clinical rotations and jobs, which could lead to a specialism.
We had between nine and 28 years post-registered nursing experience between us. The huge difference in nurse recruitment throughout this time period has never been more evident; 28 years ago, in 1991, there were no jobs for nurses – we were made redundant.
For those of us lucky enough to get job interviews, we had to consider what we could offer an employer that was perhaps different from other newly-registered nurses.
Just nine years ago, it remained extremely competitive and for someone to be employed into a post they had a true passion for was a challenge.
By comparison students of 2019 are in a privileged position, and we must adapt accordingly. We need to promote nurse recruitment well before nurses are nearing registration – perhaps in the second year of training, particularly as practice placement opportunities don’t always include newer areas, such as acute medicine.
”Placements give students the opportunity to gain skills specific to their subject or industry of choice”
There is a distinct advantage having the opportunity to connect and develop a strong working relationship with students during their management placements. It enables the student nurse to feel part of the team, to reduce transitional anxiety and improved skills and knowledge.
Placements give students the opportunity to gain skills specific to their subject or industry of choice as well as the employability skills required for real-life work. One student, who visited our stand and had had been placed with us, needed no convincing as to the merits of our clinical area, exemplifying this strategy.
From our recruitment day, we successfully recruited five students who did not have any background in, or initial desire to work in, acute medicine. Once we addressed the apprehension about the challenges experienced in acute medicine, such as high workload, nurses were so attracted by our robust induction, clinical educator, supportive staff and bespoke learning packages that they decided to come and work with us.
Jessica Thompson-Kempson, clinical educator, acute medicine; Liz Lees-Deutsch, consultant nurse, acute medicine; Andrew Coughlan, ward manager; all at Heartlands Hospital, University Hospitals Birmingham Foundation Trust.